Dissertation Abstract

The Retail Inspection Process: An Evaluation of Its Function and Consumer Perception of Risk

Publication Number:  AAT3044280
Author:  Elledge, Brenda L.
School:  The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Date:  2002
Pages:  204
Subject:  Public Health

It was hypothesized that people in general exhibit a high tolerance of risk related to dining out, manifested through increased levels of restaurant and fast food patronage coupled with a sustained high incidence and prevalence of food borne illness (FBI) in the United States. According to the CDC, 52% of the estimated 75 million cases of FBI and 5,000 deaths annually can be traced to retail eating establishments. Given that industry and regulatory agencies rely fundamentally on the retail inspection process to assure food safety at the retail level, it was postulated that a policy to performance void exists, primarily through process fragmentation, indicating that roles and responsibilities are not executed in the manner established through food safety policy. The research effort included the design, collection and statistical evaluation of two questionnaires; one distributed through direct mail to fifty Registered Sanitarians-Environmental Health Specialists and 22 County Health Department Administrators in the State of Oklahoma; one administered as a phone survey to 300 randomly selected participants in Oklahoma County. Results revealed that a measurable difference exists in the implementation, understanding and evaluation of the retail inspection process related to areas of policy, implementation and compliance. In addition, the general public was found to demonstrate the ability to discern risky behaviors and food handling practices and demonstrate an awareness of FBI, while maintaining an overall 'low' perception of risk related to FBI.

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